What are Plugins and Should I use Them?
Not all plugins are created equal.
Plugins are useful small to large programs designed to increase functionality of your WordPress web site. The basic use of wordpress is an easy way to get your web site up and running quickly. Plugins are useful in employing functions to your site at a lower cost due to the fact that you will not have to pay a developer to customize features to have on your web site.
Plug-ins are SUPPOSED to integrate seamlessly with WordPress so you do not have to work with php code.
There are plugins for forms, photo galleries, seo components, ecommerce and just about everything you can imagine and are created by developers from all around the world. Most basic plugins are offered for free with an pro upgrade or at a cost that is considerably less expensive than employing a developer to create from scratch.
But not all plugins are created equal. What I mean by this is that if you are considering a plugin, you should employ due diligence when selecting the proper plugin.
- A great plugin is one that has developer support.
- A useful plugin needs to be updated frequently by the developer who created it in order to keep up with ever changing wordpress upgrades.
- A good plugin needs to be compatible with other plugins you may have installed on your wordpress platform.
When purchasing a plugin, it is essential to do your research to be sure that it will work as the description indicates. You need to consider that you will have ample support available from the creator should you have issues with it working properly. Even with due diligence, a plugin could be mis-represented in any aspect. So the number one benefit for this web designer is to have expectations that we get timely support should it not function or integrate with the web site.
As a web designers and developers we build and manage many word press web sites and have to look at plugins frequently to determine if it is a fit for a client’s site.
We look for a number of factors to make a determination whether to install and many times have to select and configure a number of plugins to see if it is the right fit.
Unfortunately, many plugins do not have a conscientious developer who updates the plugin regularly, many plugins do not perform as the details indicate or once a plugin is purchased, the support is poor to non-existent resulting in a waste of money or time because the plugin is rendered useless.
With that said there are a number of plugins that provide superb support or are designed to work exactly as promised.
One plugin that gets our thumbs up is the wp photo seller. Recently we needed to locate a plugin for a client who sold stock photos online and we were seeking a lightweight plugin that would display and sell photos for their stock photography business.
Research was done to locate this functionality. Trial and error until we discovered the plugin that appeared to have most of the functions needed. Once the decision was made we purchased the plugin and installed. There were some hiccups with integration but each and every time the developer of the wp photo seller plug provided timely and conscientious support.
This developer went beyond what was expected to make sure it functioned properly, even when it was an oversight on the user side. This was a rare and delightful experience. We did not have to wait to see when and if we would get assistance with our problem and most often we received help within hours. For me as a designer, I give this plugin one hundred stars.
On a sadder note, we purchased a plugin for a client who wanted a simple but attractive slider on their home page web site. Again we researched and settled on a plugin that had the functions we were looking for. Unfortunately from day one, the plugin was crashing and not working as promised. We reached out for support and did not hear back for over a week, and were disappointed when they did not answer the questions asked or they just emailed back with an obvious not so clear understanding of the issue. Then again we had to wait another week for an answer that did not address the problem.
It becomes a nightmare when you have to wait for a plugin to work on your site resulting in delaying the completion of a web site.
So not all plugins are created equal. The moral to this article is to be diligent, understand the pitfalls of these small plugin programs, and if you do not know what you are doing, get with one of our San Diego based web designers who have experience, understanding and who has reviewed thousands of wordpress plugins. They will help keep your frustration at a minimum as well as to help you spend your money wisely.